By Errachid Montassir
HAF Project Manager
One of the main projects that the High Atlas Foundation takes part in is the Sami's project which works to improve systems of rural schools across the Kingdom of Morocco. One of the main aspects of this project is the distribution of various types of fruit trees to many types of schools. These include primary schools, boarding schools, universities, and high schools.
This week the High Atlas Foundation team visited five schools in the El Houz region that benefit from the Sami's project. The main goal of this sight visit was to assess the progress of Sami's in the schools and also to distribute certificates to the schools to thank them for successful completion of the planting of trees this January.
We left Marrakesh in the morning, and our first stop was a boarding school in Tahanout, this area was once a village, but it is turning into a sprawling city in the Atlas Mountains. The school is a boarding school for students of middle school age and it is a school for both boys and girls. They each have their own dormitory areas but they attend classes together.
The first thing we did at this school was sitting down with several boys from the school and taking to them about the work that HAF has done in the school and what they think about the trees that we planted there. We also talked to them about what they believe would make their school even better.
The students are very bright and they really want to make their school a better place for all.
We then went to observe the trees that the foundation planted and checked the progress of them.
To finish off the visit strong we then went and had a conversation with several female students of the school and we were again surprised and inspired by their dedication and knowledge.
We then gave the administration of the school the certificate for successful completion of the project and had some small talk with the students.
We then drove to Sidi Ghiat, which is a very small town and we visited a school by the name of alborj. After arriving we met two dedicated and inspiring teachers Mr Abdelghani and Mr Abdrrahim.
We were surprised by how well the project was doing. All of the trees were green and in great health and are on their way to being able to produce fruit. We were shocked to find out that the school, and mainly the students are able to keep the trees on good health, amidst many challenges including the fact that there is no ample source of water there, so they bring water from the village to the school every day. We look forward to working with both the school and community to be able to find ways to fix this issue, and hopefully make caring for the trees easier, but most importantly more time efficient.
We then awarded the school with their certificate of completion, and then made some small talk with the bright and funny students and staff of the school.
In the same village of Sidi Ghiyat we continued on to another school, but before hand we visited the house of a local farmer to collaborate over a great Moroccan breakfast. We were surprised by the man's hospitality and dedication to improving the community and we hope to work with him and other farmers in the community to move the entire village forward.
From there we made or way to a nearby school in the same village that HAF has been working with for many years. We checked the progress of a toilet that we constructed several years ago, and we were also taken aback by the amazing job that the students did caring for the trees at the school.
We fished our time at the Bozza school with a visit to the neighboring school building. The amount of students being enrolled at the school is growing every year, and at they has been difficult at times do to the limited resources that the school has at their disposal. We talked with the school directors about steps that can be taken to make the school a better place for children to learn and grow, ad most important build upon the process that the school and community has already made.
We then made our way to the growing city of Ait Ourir and met with a administrative leader in the Education Delegation, Mr Musstapha, he has many responsibilities in the administration and he showed us the trees of Sami's project which are in great health and on their way to producing fruit. At this site, only three trees died which is not bad at all. We gave him the certificate ,and he talked about how excited he is to continue working with the High Atlas Foundation and particularly work to improve many schools in collaboration with Sami's Project.
Im order to arrive to the last stop on our trip we left the Atlas Mountains range and drove along a winding ride though red hills to the village of Tidili Massfiwa where we visit a girls boarding school. Here we were given a very warm welcome and engaged in conversation with the school director about our project and what came be done to move the school and community forward. We also took a look at all of the trees that the foundation distributed.
We then sat and talked for around twenty minutes with a group of 30 students of the school and they spoke about how badly they wanted a library in order to be able to read and learn beyond what their amazing teachers are teaching them.
We were taken aback by how much the school's students and administrators valued the work we were doing together and we chatted about women's empowerment and about what it is like to attend a girls only boarding school in Morocco. This visit gave us great hope for the future of the Kingdom.
We then returned home to Marrakesh felling tired from a long day with lots of traveling but most importantly, felling inspired by all of the amazing people that we had met and excited about the bright future Morocco has ahead of her.